The sockeye salmon return in the Columbia River is starting to build and while this summer’s run won’t be of mega-size proportions it will be large enough to keep anglers busy in some parts of the mighty river.
“A few sockeye were being caught and released, and it is more incidentally by folks fishing for steelhead (in the Lower Columbia),” said Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. “Sockeye counts are ramping up (1,964 on Tuesday, 2,038 on Wednesday and 2,636 on Thursday – 11,830 so far this season- at Bonneville Dam).”
Starting Sunday, June 16, sport anglers on the Columbia from Highway 395 at Pasco downstream can begin keeping them as part of an adult fish daily catch limit.
Sockeye can be kept below Bonneville Dam through June 30, and above Bonneville they can be kept through July 31.
“They will be a small bonus fish for anglers, and average 3 ½ pounds,” Hymer said.
This summer’s Columbia River sockeye forecast is 180,000 with about 45,000 heading back to the Wenatchee River system.
Last year’s Wenatchee forecast was about 29,000 and then it ended up being closer to 60,000. This could be good news for those who plan to fish Lake Wenatchee later this summer, and that will be determined by inseason counting.
The sockeye return to the Okanogan River system will be about 135,000, which is down from last year but still a good number.
“The sockeye forecast is almost double the ten-year average, and things are going to be good this summer,” Hymer said. “It is still building and looking decent and I think we’ve gotten kind of spoiled from the huge runs in recent years.’